Begin Main Content Area


The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS), in partnership with The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau Of Special Education, Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN), Pennsylvania State University College of Education and College of Health and Human Development, in conjunction with Penn State Conferences and Institutes, hosts the Summer Academy for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired at Penn State’s University Park campus every summer.

Summer Academy is a three-week, intensive program focused on enhancing independence skills for students transitioning to post-secondary education. It is available at no cost to eligible students currently enrolled in 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade and who anticipate attending a two- or four-year college or technical/trade school after graduation.

The academy’s primary focus includes: daily living activities, travel skills, self-advocacy and networking skills, career awareness, social skills, enhancing access technology skills and low-vision rehabilitation. All students attending the academy reside at Penn State University in a dormitory. There the students share rooms with other students, eat meals in a campus dining hall, and immerse themselves in other activities reflective of college life. The program also offers an optional STEM extension week, in partnership with PSU, Science U and the Materials Research Science & Engineering Center.

Summer Academy Program Content includes:

  • Access Technology - Seek information and complete college level work by accessing university Learning Management Systems and library databases, Daisy Readers and Digital Books as well as iOS accessibility and optical character recognition, and by using assistive technology while attending a PSU summer college class.
  • Vision Rehabilitation Therapy - Develop and enhance independent daily living skills such as shopping, food preparation, labeling, cleaning, laundry, financial management, and self-care.
  • Orientation and Mobility Instruction - Enhance necessary independent travel skills on and off campus using canes, adaptive mobility equipment, public transportation, and GPS devices.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation - Assist in the transition to post-secondary education using career interest assessments and attending workshops held by Penn State Career Services.
  • Self-Advocacy and Networking - Develop social, self-advocacy, networking, and team-building skills though activities that focus on trust, communication, and support in order to succeed at college or technical school and in the workforce.
  • Team Building and Recreation – Develop confidence by taking part in teambuilding, canoeing, rock wall climbing and the high ropes course at Penn State’s Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center and Stone Valley; other recreational events and sports include dancing, swimming, self-defense classes, beep baseball, volleyball, and goalball.
  • Low-Vision Rehabilitation - Address the functional vision of individuals with low vision. Students who have some remaining vision will have the opportunity to explore a variety of low-vision rehabilitation options for maximizing functional vision.
  • STEM Extension Week - Experience the applications of science, technology engineering, and math in the real world through hands-on activities. Students learn about careers in STEM fields. Summer Academy for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired has received national recognition as an emerging best practice in Transition Services by the US Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration.

To apply for Summer Academy:
To apply for a Resident Assistant position for Summer Academy:

About Summer Academy video

Opens the Summer Academy Handbook in P D F format           
Opens the Summer Academy Brochure in P D F format